SQUAMOUS CELL CANCER
This patient information and photographs on Squamous Cell Cancer is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Squamous cell cancer is a specific type of skin cancer. It can occur at any age, but it appears more often in adults over thirty-five. Squamous cell cancer usually occurs on sun exposed areas of skin, and it may take months to years to grow. There are several subtypes of squamous cell carcinoma such as keratoacanthomas, Bowen's disease, and some physicians believe that actinic keratoses may be very early squamous cell carcinomas that have not evolved.
What causes it? The exact cause of skin cancer is unknown. I would like to emphasize that ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure is the biggest risk factor. Even if you never were out in the sun much, decades of going to the mailbox, hanging laundry, etc... all tally up for a significant amount of sun exposure. The effects of your sun exposure are cumulative. People at highest risk are those who have fair skin, light colored eyes, and have spent a lifetime working in the sun.
Regular use of sunscreen has been shown to decrease risk for the development of squamous cell skin cancer. My personal recommendation is a waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher Sunscreen Info./Ordering For more skin care in the sun recommendations click here sun skin care.
How is it treated? There are several different ways this cancer can be treated and I will discuss the options with you. I adapt the treatment to fit the individual problem considering what will give the highest cure rate with the best cosmetic result (see also skin cancer treatments and Mohs Surgery).
Is it dangerous? Yes, unless treated. If neglected, this cancer will continue to grow. On rare occasions this cancer can spread to other organs and even be fatal.
Can it grow back? A small number may re-grow even after treatment and will need further treatment. Periodic follow up is needed to check for any signs of re-occurrence or development of new cancers.
Will I get more? People that have one skin cancer are at higher risk to get more. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of regular skin exams in those that have a history of squamous cell carcinoma. You should become aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer and point out to me any suspicious new growths that may occur.
Is it contagious? Squamous cell cancer is not contagious and you can not "catch it" from anyone